RARA-AVIS: Working class cats

From: CLehane ( clehane@nea.org)
Date: 26 Sep 2005

I wanted to add my two cents now that the working class has raised its head. First, as to cats ... My hero--such as he is--McNulty the bartender acquires a cat in the book I'm working on now ...but fear not, it's an alley cat.

As for the discussion of working class tragedy, the topic is fascinating for me. The route I traveled as a reader and writer was from proletarian fiction of the '20s '30s, '40's, even into the '50s to noir writers like David Goodis, Jim Thompson, Derek Raymond and some others. What really appeals to me about them--and about some of Dennis's Writing and George Pelecanos's and others--is a kind of non-ideological working class sensibility in their writing. What this has to do with whether noir is working class tragedy, I dare not venture a guess--for fear of getting my ears boxed. Back in the
'30s the proletarian writers, Mike Gold in particular, argued that workers should be the subjects of great literature ... the sense being that they weren't before that time (which may not be true) and would be ever after. In some ways, this--the working class as subject and setting-- has happened in crime fiction and to some extent comes from what Hammett did---in the sense that Sam Spade was on the clock. So, to make a long story short, what attracts me to both hard-boiled and noir is their working class aspects. McNulty carries a union book.

Con Lehane

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